Saturday, April 07, 2007

Nothing new under the sun [Ecclesiastes]


Physicists, philosophers, theologians all regurgitate ideas that were examined by the Greek philosophers [circa 500 B.C.] or Oriental thinkers [circa 650 B.C.] and pretend they are the discoverers of new concepts.

Darwin’s theories, especially evolution, has antecedents in Anaximander [610-547 B.C.].

Einstein’s relativity is hinted at by Thales [640-546 B.C.]

Quantum Theory originated with Leucippus and Democritus [circa 540 B.C.]

Hawkings’ mathematics can be found in the works of Pythagoras [570-500 B.C.]

Perhaps if all the works of the early Greeks or Orientals were available – most have been lost to us – the answer sought by today’s scientists could be found, or helped along.

The point of all the theorizing extant is a solution for the meaning of life one supposes, which is exactly what the early thinkers hoped for also.

The problem today is how to mingle technology and the apparent evolution of thought with the great ideas of the past.

But will today’s scholars set aside hubris to do that? Some may, most will not.

The brilliant Douglas Hofstadter has tried, but mostly confuses the hoi polloi, and not a few scientific elites, as has Penrose, Paul Davies, and a few others.

Early thought, more often than not, intermixed ideas about the gods of God. Few scholars today, and even fewer scientists, concede there are gods or a God. And they are right to eschew the concept (for reasons we enumerate elsewhere).

But can a definition for the idea of God, a Supreme Being, be mitigated to allow its integration into the hypotheses and theories of science, as mathematics have been integrated?

Or is the idea of a God not necessary for an explanation of the mysteries that still rankle science?

One can do work-arounds (eliminating God from theoretical equations) but will that allow for a final solution of questions asked, such as why does string theory, relativity, or quantum not produce answers that satisfy, that will not produce a “theory of everything”?

We’ll address all this with notes from the literature, new, old, and arcane.

Meanwhile, let us suggest a simple but thoughtful book to get started:

Human Destiny by Lecomte du Nouy, available at Amazon, Powell’s, and other online bookstores.